A message to small business: “You are our focus”

20 March, 2020 by Deborah Jackson

In troubling and uncertain times, it is important to take care of your mental health and also the wellbeing of your staff. This is an open letter from Peter Peck, the CEO of Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia (LSA WA), letting small business owners know that they are not alone.

“In my life I have worn many hats. In 2008, I was the Chief of Staff of the first Minister for Mental Health in Western Australia. Now, I’m not a doctor or medical professional of any kind, but in that environment and navigating through the GFC you do get to understand mental health and the important tools that can be used when dealing with stressful situations.

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There are a few things to understand about panic and stress:

  • Catastrophising is the first step to the downward journey of despair.
  • Every person thinks they have the magical power to see into the future. But as far as I know they don’t have that power.

What they actually do is look at the environment around them in times of stress and do what’s known as negative filtering. What negative filtering is, is looking at the world around you and you filter out any positives and focus on only the negatives. And that’s where the cycle starts and grows. Feeding on itself until it becomes so strong that you can see no way out.

So, how can I take back control of my brain? There is a therapy called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). What this does is it allows you to break the cycle. A sort of check up from the neck up.

Step one: When you are feeling stressed you need to picture a stop sign in your mind. When the only thing in your mind is the stop sign you have taken the first and hardest step.

Step two: You then ask yourself if you are making your appraisal of your situation based only on facts or are you looking into the future.

Step three: You identify that you have made your conclusion of your situation based on what you think is going to happen (fortune telling).

When you discount the fortune telling and look at just the facts it will usually pull you back a couple of notches.

If you find it hard to do this alone then you can always call people like Lifeline to help you refocus.

You may not realise, but there are a lot of people in the same boat with you and there are more people like the LSA WA, AHA, MGA, Small Business Council and others who are pulling out every stop and are pushing as hard as they can to make sure your business does not fall apart.

Your job is to make sure that you stay safe and healthy and continue to trade.

The largest employer in Australia is small business. You have not been forgotten. You are our focus.

If you do feel things are getting on top of you then please call Lifeline and have a chat.

Please understand we will get through this and life will go on.

Please stay safe.”

Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14.